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2020 год

Yana Varshavskaya
Very bad ENGLISH

© Y. Varshavskaya, 2019

© International Union of Writers, 2019

Yana Varshavskaya
Very bad ENGLISH

Yana Varshavskaya

Winner of the 2nd Prize of the national literary award «Writer of the Year» (2013).

Winner of the 2nd Prize and Winner of the International Poetry Competition «The Golden Stanza» (2011–2015).

Holder of S. Ya. Nadson medal «For Personal Contribution to the Development of Russian

Culture and Literature», «65 Years of ISP», Vladimir Nabokov medal «For Contribution to Foreign Literature», Boris and Gleb medal «For Sincerity in Literature» and the commemorative medal «220 Years to A. S. Pushkin».

She took 1st place in the Innocent Annensky Poetry Competition on the 34th International Festival «Aelita» (2017).

Awarded with the 3rd place in Marina Tsvetaeva Poetry Competition on RosCon festival (2017).

Marked with V. Belinsky Special Prize at the RosCon Fiction Festival (2019).

Author of 8 books and 50 collections published in 2011–2019.

Awarded with more than 70 diplomas, gratitudes and certificated from numerous contests and festivals.

This book was published thanks to my wonderful friends who live in Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA.

Lilia Burleva, Jan Alboszta, I love you!


I like novels like this one. Honest and open, like a conversation with a best friend. Maybe not the best, but the one ready to listen to you, which I think means a lot. The female lead character understands everything about herself, and doesn't even try to deceive herself anymore. She adds a little truth, a little bit of humor and completes the dish of her life with an interesting story. Only a woman who is honest with herself can talk about herself like this: «But I have nothing. Rather, I need everything. I have no apartment, no car, no summer house, no husband. Not even a dog. Oh yes… I have a dorm room. Six meters. From the threshold you can immediately collapse onto the sofa.»

It all begins with a letter from the unknown D. Frost, sent from America to Siberia. That's an intrigue! But then the letter story is forgotten, and the girl is waiting for her trip to the sea and Dubrovnik, she finds… a corpse at the door of her dormitory. What an amazing pun: «This stranger was the first dead man I saw…»

I'm very excited to tell you, reader, the whole plot of this first-class novel. It's very name, «Very Bad English», is worth mentioning. But we won't. We will not steal your hours of pleasure from «bathing» in a light, lively and alluring text. We can only add that if you are a fan of diary entries, you will come off to the fullest. Dates, nuances, small details and observations, open emotions are in the notes of the main character's sister. They sound like a separate song.

The author is very good at grasping reality and transferring to paper, conveying the mood and exposing women's internal dialogues. What is the other woman thinking? It's a mystery Yana Varshavskaya solved.

Maria Ziablova, journalist, criticist

The works of Yana Varshavskaya, both prosaic and poetic, retain a special atmosphere of mystery.

The novel «Very Bad English», which is defined as «female mystery,» is a narrative «about intricacies and unexpected turns of Fate…»

The roots of the plot can be found long before the beginning of the story. Two sisters, twins, were separated: their parents divorced, and their mother took one of the daughters with her. Their further fate destroys all accepted stereotypes about twins: they should have certainly become similar, choose the same life path, but this does not happen. On the contrary, they are contrasting, although this does not interfere with sisterly love.

The other twins are Dormidont, nicknamed Doremi, and Donald Frost. They are separated by oceans, borders and many other things… Fate seems to play with them: they meet in an Internet program, then, not allowed to speak or contact each other, they are immediately tear apart when the electricity is off.

At the same time, fate creates a different chain of coincidences, oddities, mystical events or simple surprises. The magic of numbers, the magic of general books, the magic of words – as if all the secret forces of the other world set the goal of connecting two pairs. They are led to each other to meet the «inexplicable secret», «the whisper of the Lord». Led to a happy ending and pairing.

However, «the two most important threads have remained unconnected. Doni Frost and Dorian Cooper… No one was embarrassed by the fact that young people are so alike and were born on the same day!» It seems to be a shadow overshadowing happiness. However, if you think about it, this means only one thing: the book of life has not yet been completed and, perhaps, another story will serve as a continuation.

Crimea, 2019

Part I

He was still alive when I came in. The man was lying on the floor. His eyes turned to the sky were open. In fact, the sky was replaced by the high ceiling of our five-story dormitory.

Perhaps this was some last impulse… He extended his hand to me and said:

«Now the thread is broken!» His hand trembled, and he somehow immediately changed his face, as if petrified.

I stood right at the door, unable to move. This stranger was the first dead man I've ever seen…


It's a dull weekend morning.

I have no need to wake up early today to walk to the university.

Actually, I love to walk. This is one of the few things I really love. I cross familiar streets, adjusting myself and getting used to the idea that I will hardly be able to change anything in this city. After all, there is nothing more boring than the work of an engineer. Well, let me clarify… An engineer of a laboratory.

For three or four years studying at university was a joy to me.

But it was a long time ago. I quickly got used to it and got bored. Now I'm thirty. Actually, a little more… The work now does not cause a faintest reflection of former polar sensations. No fear, no love. Although now I am a leading engineer, I'm still a leading engineer of a laboratory.

I'm thirty. All right! A little more. It's easier to list what I have than what I don't… I don't have anything. Or rather I need everything. I have no apartment, no car, no summer house, no husband. Not even a dog.

Oh yes…

I have a six-meter dorm room. You can immediately fall into the sofa once you enter. There is also a round aquarium with two black telescope carps and three goldfish, measuredly going nowhere. It seems that there is no limit to their indignation… Whenever I look in the direction of the aquarium, I see huge eyes and hear incessant conversations. How much more can they chat? Well, at least fish don't have a voice. So let them chat!

The aquarium has been decorating my home for five years and has replaced the sketchbook easel with aluminum legs, which is now assembled and occupies all the free space between the large tall wardrobe and the wall. The long easel straps occasionally catch my eye, but…

Evening art school is over. Period. No more sketches, no monotypes and drafts. Nothing. I turned this page.

Fish got hungry in the morning, so they swam to the walls of their glass shelter to demand food and, as it seemed to me, promise to fulfill any of my wishes. I automatically opened a box with dry larvae…

«Try to surprise me,» I said, crushing the food over the water.

Going down to the ground floor, I asked for mail with no hope in my voice.

«Just a letter, Tanya. But what a letter!» The duty watchman exclaimed, handing me a weighty A4 envelope.

«Well, well…» I thought, «You did surprise me!»

There were stamps in the upper right corner, just like expected. Remarkable stamps with large yellow flowers and the words: «I LOVE YOU!»

Trembling from emotions suddenly surging, I opened the letter, very carefully, not yet fully believing that it was addressed to me. In any case, it would not be difficult for me to seal it, and no one would have suspected that the envelope had already been opened.

The text of the letter was very neat, but… Good God, it's English! Yes, and it's written in block letters.

Chapter 1

The most common misconception regarding twins is that they all have a similar fate, call their children the same names, though without exchanging a word…

Probably, there is some truth in this. And there are thousands of examples, because they tell about such cases in popular magazines and books. But did anyone mention the dissimilar ones?

I'm afraid it would not seem so interesting…

Our parents decided to arrange a global experiment within a small family. I still don't get what they wanted to achieve. Apparently, there is still some reasonable explanation, but…

We were nearly copies of each other, or at least as similar as a reflection in the mirror and the one who looks into it. My mole is coquettishly located on my right cheek, while Eva has it on her left. My sister's right eye always betrayed her with a slight squint when she thought of a trick. My left eye betrayed me just as treacherously… But this fact was known only to our inner circle.

My sister and I studied in different classes and at birth we were given different last names. So few people at school knew that we were relatives, not to mention twins… I was the proud owner of my father's last name, while Eva carried the last name of her mother. She did not change it even when she got marriage certificate at the registry office, as she simply did not want to bother with a pile of certificates, diplomas and other documents that required replacement and waste of valuable time.

Parents could not spoil our happy childhood with the recommendations read in Benjamin Spock's «Baby and Child Care». Thank God our Mom had enough wisdom and intuition (or intuition and wisdom) to declare this book not only harmful, but deadly. As time has shown, our mom turned out to be absolutely right.

However, different things happen in life that fit poorly in the head of a thirteen-year-old teenagers we were at that time.

Mom was a very beautiful, but extremely straightforward woman. She did not hide her affair at work, divorced our father and left to St. Petersburg with her Romeo. She left taking Eva with her.

It was so dishonest, but no one asked us…

I put all my effort and time to school. I also wrote letters.

Paper envelopes were sent across half the country. Sometimes they crossed at the sorting centers with rare Eva's notes and flew in opposite directions. I could spend hours staring at envelopes beckoning with long journeys, examine stamps and seals, not daring to open the long-awaited letter.

Our parents did not communicate ever since. They did not call each other or see each other. And if it weren't for the Internet, Eva and I were unlikely to ever be able to meet.

When I saw her for the first time after the parental divorce, it seemed to me that my mirror had long since cheated on me with a different reflection… Eva looked like my opposite, a sort of Barbie doll: a good-looking blonde with my dream hair gathered in a ponytail. Impeccable dotted dress and shoes sparkling with Swarovski crystals…

«Eva?!.» I was only able to murmur, involuntarily pulling a crumpled T-shirt and not knowing where to put my hands.

Yes, it was a sentence. Sentence to me. Although I had long ago left my hometown and could not consult with my dad for any reason, it never came to my mind that I had matured, and could somehow work on my appearance.

When I was a child, my father used to say that in life you need to choose the best of what is offered. For example, if it concerns education, it's clear that I chose…

Of course, it was the best university with a renowned school and well-known professors, the most demanded faculty and, naturally, a department booming with world fame. All this was within my power. I studied easily, but then… Little depended on me alone…

So I stayed to work in the oldest Siberian university. Following my father's recommendations, I was in no hurry to arrange my personal life, taking into account someone else's choice, not my own…

I did not marry a widower with two children, who gave me perfumes and mountains of fruit on any occasion. Twice I refused the proposal of professor's son, who was wandering from one night club to another.

Why is that?

Because I was waiting for my Prince Charming. Well, you know, the one and only.

I was not even embarrassed to live in a six-meter room in our university dormitory. After all, this is the city center, and it's much better than renting an apartment somewhere in the suburbs.

Firstly, it saves time and money, and secondly, it gives the ability to temper your character, unless there is a natural tendency to depression or other things.

However, as the global parental experiment showed, the unbreakable paternal theory had a stumbling block…

Now when Eva appeared before me in full force, I realized that time had played a cruel joke on me. It was as if I saw myself from outside: jeans outstretched on my knees, black T-shirt and sneakers dreaming to rest in peace in some landfill…

No makeup, so as not to age prematurely…

Hairstyle? I've never had any hairstyle in my life!..

That was our very first meeting.

Then Eva suddenly got married, graduated from medical university and, thanks to her stepfather, got a job in a fashionable clinic. And now she brings up two boys. By the way, they are also twins!

What an irony.

«Taska, you look cool!» said Eva, meeting me once again at Pulkovo airport. I do not like it when she distorts my name, but this is a long-standing children's showdown.

«I'm glad you agreed to stop by! Your next flight is in a day anyway.»

«Is that mom's car?» I asked unconfidently, pointing to the mocha-colored Audi.

«Yeah… Mine is under repair. How are you? How's dad?»

«As usual. What about mom?» I asked, trying to be polite.

«Getting younger and younger! I'm not a competitor to her. I'll take you to her if you want, without declaring war!» suggested Eva, most likely, also out of politeness.

«Nope. I don't want to upset her.»

«You should! Actually…» Eva thought for a moment, «It's time to change at least something in life. After all, we only live once, right Taska?» she said with a slight sadness.

Now, looking at the mysterious letter, I remembered the recent conversation and assumed that there could be some connection between these two facts…

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